We’re taught to focus on our strengths and continue to hone them from a young age. Any weaknesses or issues are usually sidelined or kept private, a problem to deal with later. Then, as we grow into adulthood, we all too frequently continue to ignore those challenges, even though they need to be resolved for our well-being.
In this episode of Awareness that Heals, Robert with great support from Dave from The Global Bridge Foundation explores how awareness of our tone of voice can be integral to us taking the first step to go beyond the normal, beyond what’s expected of us in facing our challenges and to respond in ways to build a more fulfilled life. This involves recognizing challenges and overcoming them using awareness, inquiry, and wisdom guidance.
Take a moment to think back to the last time you fought with someone. The chances are that you remember only a few of the things you both said to each other. But there’s something about the way that you both spoke to one another that probably stayed with you long after the disagreement or fight.
Your reactions are revealed in your tone of voice when we listen carefully. Are you authentically expressing yourself and being sensitive? Are you hurting both yourself and the other person when you don’t check your tone of voice? Some of this might be unconscious wants or dissatisfaction coming through in your tone of voice. But once you start introspecting and understanding the role of tone of voice in communication, you can become more aware of your intention — do you want to act out the challenging emotion or move toward peace and resolution?
When you ask yourself, “What is my greatest need?” or “What is my most frequent challenging emotion?” you are able to get a glimpse into these feelings and emotions that influence your tone of voice. Then, you can learn to pause before reacting and gather yourself to find and express your feelings in a calmer, more sensitive, and respectful manner.
Our tone of voice can be a hidden depiction of our feelings. Previously, we discussed how we can say positive words that are coded with silent negativity. This means that exploring our tone of voice can help us become aware of what we need to express. For example, we might need help or support, or we might need some space. Using a sensitive and reassuring tone of voice to ask for what we need is a great step towards wellbeing, which helps us expand our potential for a fulfilled life.
Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.
Awareness That Heals, Episode 48.
Robert Strock: (00:05)
The reason why tone of voice is such a great place to focus on is it’s not just in the head. It’s not just intellectual, it’s energetic. It’s in your being. It’s in your, it’s in your core motivations inside you.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity, to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book, “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock: (01:02)
Thanks again for joining us at Awareness That Heals where we always do our very best to focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life challenges. And as I’ve shared before we start again and again with being aware of what’s most difficult for us. Now, you may ask why, and it’s because it’s counter-cultural to where there’s a blind spot is so significant in our culture. We think if we’re not happy, friendly, loving that we’re bad and we’re much better off not to acknowledge it many times, most of the time, probably even to ourselves. And if we bury that it’s going to come leaking out and we’re going to lose the underlying needs that that suffering is revealing. And also, when we look closely, we can see that these difficulties are universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not. And crucially important, we’re also focusing on how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times.
Robert Strock: (02:22)
And again, this is not something that we were taught. And so why would we want to look at our challenges? Why would we want to stay there if we don’t care for ourselves? We wouldn’t. So, the key is to see that partnership and this sets up the ideal conditions for us to be fulfilled or to maximize our fulfillment. I don’t mean fulfilled, like fulfilled, we’ve arrived. I mean, on the continuum, we’re notching, we’re ratcheting up our potential, full fulfillment in our individual lives, and also to make the maximum contribution to the world by finding and living closer to our best selves. Like to start off by introducing Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and dearest friend.
Thank you. Uh, these particular conversations and episodes about tone of voice, um, for me are applicable to literally every one of the podcast episodes all the way through Awareness That Heals. They are, it’s foundational to me, it’s foundational to have, uh, because it’s, it’s really the nuts and bolts of how we transmit. And I really, really appreciate, uh, what you’re doing here.
Robert Strock: (03:45)
Well, thanks for that. And I, I obviously agree that it’s foundational for all the episodes and foundational for life foundational for every human being that’s ever lived and will live. So, I’d like to come back to that theme. I mentioned in the last episode that I acknowledged is so very difficult and it really is a state of evolution. If you looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Development, you’d see that this would be right in there parallel to peak experiences, right at the top. And it’s really a key to inner peace. And it really requires that genuine awareness to see all of our tones are actually arising from us. And as we talked about in the last episode, we think that I feel this way because of what you said. I mean, he talked to me like, of course, I’m going to talk to you like shit, what do you expect? It’s the normal human reaction, but normal means it includes war. Normal means it includes alienation. Normal means we’re not reliably honest.
Robert Strock: (05:09)
We aren’t here to aspire to be normal. We’re here to aspire to actually have a quality of life. Now that sounds like a philosopher, but it’s actually the meat and potatoes, or if you’re a vegetarian, it’s the great vegetables of life. I’m not going to get farther than that. I could, I could go on and on with, with, uh, other meta vegetarians. And, and so when you think others are responsible for your tone of voice, when we think others are responsible for our tones of voice, we’re normal, but that means we’re gonna carry on wars in our relationships. And it also means we can be the source of peace. And I don’t mean this in black and white pictures, as we talked about last time, everything we’re talking about, or maybe I should say virtually everything we’re talking about is on a continuum. And it’s as if you see an arrow pointing up in the sky and you see there being 10 million, little digits, maybe you can move up 50.
Robert Strock: (06:23)
Maybe you can then maybe you move down 20. And then you may, maybe you move out 50 again, that we’re, as we’re aspiring to see that we are responsible for our own tones of voice. Now I’m saying this to myself right now. I know, I know a part of me can’t hear me. I know a part of my unconscious still believes you talk to me like, I’m going to give you shit. That’s just ingrained in our DNA, eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth, even in our Old Testament. But we’re talking about the possibility of being a setter of something at a time when our world is looking like it might self-destruct. Part of the reason why it might self-destruct is related to our tone of voice. It is related to our intentions in life. It isn’t related to our self-centeredness and we can’t see the self that is cent, that we’re centered around.
Robert Strock: (07:23)
We can’t see the feelings that we make others responsible, it’s us and them, I’m the holy source and the others. The others are the cause of my suffering, or the world is the cause of my suffering, or the welfare of their cause of my suffering. Now at one level, this is true. We all get mistreated. So I’m not disputing that we all are mistreated at various times, but the key is, do we have the capacity or more accurately, can we use the capacity to increase the frequency of pausing when we’re stirred up? And especially when we feel attacked, when we feel attacked, we are dangerous as hell. And I literally mean hell, when we’re attacked, can you imagine yourself right now? Imagine yourself getting attacked. And instead of just reacting, you pause, and maybe you can find a place inside you that says, could you try to say that to me in another way?
Robert Strock: (08:29)
And I’m, I’m having trouble receiving what you’re saying and the way you’re saying it, and the person might say, what the are you talking about? And you say, well, I’m talking about an amount of anger that feels to be, well, you deserve it. Cause I want you to, did I asked you to do this. I asked you to do that. And yet I’m still asking you, would you mind speaking to me in a different way now, because this goes on and on. Then hopefully the same thing would be to say, you know what, I’m going to leave the room right now because I actually really need you to talk to me with a different kind of respect or decent, what, what the hell are you talking about? And you say, I’m going to say goodbye now, can you leave. Now that is the model for not letting yourself get abused, not being intellectually naive that you think just because you talk in a nice tone of voice, magically you’re going to have a Harry Potter wand.
Robert Strock: (09:32)
That’s not, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about you increasing the capacity to have a quality of life independent to some extent from the person you’re with, which paradoxically allows you to be more interconnected and having that as an aspiration, waking up with, with my tone of voice, I want to use that as a vehicle. The reason why tone of voice is such a great place to focus on is it’s not just in the head. It’s not just intellectual, it’s energetic, it’s in your being, it’s in your, it’s in your core motivations inside you. And so it’s important to recognize both because it’s true, but also to allow yourself to have a little bit of self-caring that for almost everyone, it’s our biggest blind spots, our tone of voice. So, understanding that it’s like, wow, I had a chance to actually change my quality of life.
Robert Strock: (10:38)
And most people have not even thought about it. This is a, this is a completely evolutionary state that I can see. I have the capacity. It doesn’t require somebody to be brilliant. And anybody that doesn’t understand what I’m saying now, I’ve met a lot of people who are interested in practicing, but it’s a very, very simple to understand, but the grooves and the habits that we have are so deep seated that our understanding needs to be repeated thousands and thousands of times to counteract our conditionings. So, it does take a mixture for those of you that have been following the prior episodes of our tones of voice and our wisdom-guidance to, to be guiding us how we can best take care of ourselves. And that means we have to ask ourselves the question, which is another set of things, inquiry, or asking ourselves a question, how can we best take care of ourselves with our tone of voice?
Robert Strock: (11:44)
We need to ask ourselves that if we don’t ask ourselves that there’s no magic, it’s not like we can just turn on a record player and it’s going to do it for us. We need to take the steps to see our challenges, to know that we want to actually get along, rather than be at each other’s throats or just be distant, or just carry on years or decades of, of alienation or distance or accepting something that’s mediocre and trying to inject something that requires some introspection, requires some inquiry, requires some wisdom. So, we need to have access if we didn’t have modeling inside our lives. And we didn’t see somebody that demonstrated strength or kindness or peace or passion or humility or empathy in their tones, we need to look at our lives and say, have we ever seen anybody that’s had this that I can emulate?
Robert Strock: (12:43)
And again, having access, if you don’t have a great understanding of qualities of life, it’s invaluable to go to awarenesstheheals.org and see 75 tones that will make you more fulfilled if you have it by now and carry that life can be an endless amount of, I would like to be more in that tone because that tone feels good. Not because I should be like this it’s not a moral standard. It comes from an intuitive place where you recognize it feels better to be kind than be alienating. It feels better to be courageous than to feel frightened or anxious. It feels better to be caring than to be detached and uninterested and to know that to be guided to that is again another evolutionary step.
I’d like you to pause with me here, because you just said something for me that that resonated tone of voice into the other things that we’ve been talking about before the, the, the, the asking of questions, inquiry, the, the guiding yourself and the, uh, the inherent qualities that in and of themselves contain fulfillment. And it just, a place to pause. It’s not simply, I’m aware of my tone of voice. It’s not simply I can interact with somebody and we could become even aware of each other’s tone of voice, or we can do better in the moment. It’s the, it’s the whole thing. It’s a connectivity to what you’re talking about. And it just, want to pause there because it’s so, so poignant and important.
Robert Strock: (14:44)
Yeah. I, I thank you for that. I think the key turning point, which is one that we would do well to focus more on is what is your intention? Is your intention to really move toward challenging emotion, or is your intention to move toward some kind of fulfillment or peace. And when you’re reactive, can you see that? That actually is an intention, even though it’s unconscious? No, but now almost nobody intentionally is angry because that’s just who I am. That’s who I like to be. It’s, it’s perverted into a feeling of justice. I’m doing justice by being angry because I, somebody attacked me. So, I’m not going to act like a wimp. I’m going to be, I’m going to defend myself. But if we can see what is our intention, do we have an intention to care? Does that matter? Do we have an intention to be strong?
Robert Strock: (15:51)
Do we have an intention to be peaceful? Are we even asking ourselves that question? Like, like you’re asking to have us pause for, are we aware enough to ask ourselves what is our greatest need right now? How often do we ask ourselves? You know, people tell me in counseling, at the beginning, you know, it sounds like a homework assignment. It sounds like a therapy session. No, no, yes it does, but hopefully it’s speaking to you individually, just as a human being, that if my intention to care is more central to me than just spontaneously reacting to what’s around me, then I’m going to ask myself, what, what, what do I care about? What matters to me right now? And then I’m going to listen to the answer. And if I get, when I get the answer, cause you will get the answer, if you really ask, when I get the answer, do I care enough to implement it? To energize it? Yeah. Makes me think of Star Trek. Yeah. Scotty energized. It’s like, am I, am I going to energize the feeling? Am I going to want to have my vibrational vocal chords actually hear me?
Robert Strock: (17:17)
How much is that intention there? How much am I asking these questions? Do I care enough? Or am I thinking to myself? Well, gee, that’s an interesting theory. That’s an adjusting attitude. Or are you taking it personally? Hopefully you’re really taking it personally. Hopefully you’re seeing your bottom 10, you know, your bottom five and seeing not judgementally, you’re seeing it as, oh good, I can see it. And oh good, I care enough to see where that is to ask that question. And I care enough to ask what would be the way I can care for myself while I’m in those days, so I can then give a hint as to what it is that I need and can convey it in my tone of voice, either through my being or through my asking.
Just want to say, once again, you went further, but you went back to the beginning of Awareness That Heals with intention to heal. So, the linkage here is all the way through. It really is one stepped to the next to the next. And as I think, as we go on, we will see the further episodes we talk about and which reflect the chapters in the book, Awareness That Heals are all linked, are all connected.
Robert Strock: (18:39)
Absolutely. And that’s why it’s so important. Even in the first chapter, we talk about a third level of awareness where you might have the mental awareness of the intention to heal, but is the intention to heal actual. And that’s the key ingredients, seeing the challenge and having the intention to heal. That’s the magic, that’s the magic formula, the worse you feel, the greater, the opportunity. You can have the potential to guide yourself. And as I’ve said, many times, cause it’s so important because there are so many of us that are caught in states that we cannot change. And so, when we find the intention to heal, that means we develop a friendly mind because the heart can’t change. The goal with tone of voice isn’t to magically again, have Harry Potter join you in your, your vocal chords. He’s not there, but your mind can say, you know what, this is what I’m going through. And this is what I’d like to address. And maybe you’re in misery.
Robert Strock: (19:56)
You’re wise enough to have the intention to heal with your mind and your mind can guide you. It’s enough for those of you that heard my story. I was as bad off as any kind I’ve ever seen for six months, worse than most. But I did find that the intention to heal, I still had, not always, some of the times I was absorbed, but it was the guiding light. And did it, did it lead me to feeling good? Now I wasn’t capable of feeling good. I was too exhausted. I was too agitated. I was too anxious. Was I able to acknowledge it a high percentage of the time and be able to utilize it as a therapeutic device and as a caring way of being authentic. I think I was most of the time and it became clear to me that I deserved more credit for that time period than any, anytime where I felt good.
Robert Strock: (21:02)
And so, when you start to realize the worse, you feel, the greater the victory, and being able to practice friendly mind, to be able to practice something that may be verbally or totally neutral at best. It may even still have the flavor of depression or anxiety in it. But with the intention to heal, you can still be positive, even though you’re not feeling very good. It’s kind of miraculous. It’s not black and white. It’s very gray. But for those of you that are in difficult situations, somebody’s dying in your family, you’ve, you’ve lost capacity with aging. You’ve, you’ve lost money. You’ve, you, you haven’t, you failed, you failed from school. You’re food insecure. When you’re in situations like that, you still want to dig deep and try to ask yourself with that intention to care and heal, to be the best self you can be.
Robert Strock: (22:07)
That’s the greatest victory. People that have the greatest dignity, which you see when you visit third-world countries, they don’t have the words, intention to heal. They just automatically are focusing on planting the next seed. If they are lucky enough to have a area where they can have planting of food, or they’re looking at how can I get my next meal in a certain way, their life is more simplified, but you can see there’s a certain grace, even though they’re feeling despair, terror, anxious about food, can I provide for my kids? They’re not going to get out of that difficult state, but they can still have the intention to care or heal. And it will reflect in the tone. And when you go there, you can see it on their tone, but you could see it in their eyes, too. There’s an innocence because they’ve embraced the human state.
Robert Strock: (22:58)
They more naturally have acknowledged and come to peace with a suffering that’s there, they haven’t been taught. That life’s about getting ahead, about gaining power. They have an advantage over us. They were just faced with survival on a core energy level. Obviously, a vast disadvantage relative to having their security or their food or their life taken care of and all the ways that many of us are privileged. But the dignity, there’s a higher percentage of dignity in my experience in the third-world of the average, common person. And in America, maybe it’s about even, because there’s more of a jealousy because they’re closer to the wealth, but there’s still dignity in the in a sincerity of really working hard to survive for the family.
I want to reflect on something you just said, which is, yeah, you may still have a tone that has a little depression or a little anxiety. And in some of the circumstances you’re describing, It’s for me, as I’ve experienced in my life, and it’s hard to accept, but it’s of course, of course, how can that not be the case? Can you speak to that? The coarseness of it, the, the naturalness of it.
Robert Strock: (24:20)
Yeah, they, of course is really obvious if you’re in touch with deep anxiety, chronic anxiety or chronic depression. And it’s not really, of course, unless you’re exposed to someone who has cared for you there. So, it’s really hard to get to the “of course,” and it’s almost impossible, maybe impossible to stay with, stably, the “of course.” That, of course, it’s got to come through because that, that of course has kindness in there that of course has some caring in there. And, and you could say, of course, the, of course won’t be there reliably because it’s just too hard. Of course, you’re going to get absorbed in the depression. Of course, you’re going to get absorbed in the anxiety, but then the mini miracle happens, oh my God, I’m still worthy. I’m still deserving of caring. That’s the miracle. Then the, of course comes. But when that, of course comes, it is early.
Robert Strock: (25:32)
Uh, I think of king-like, it’s, it’s Royal, it’s real royalty. That’s earning, that’s earning your, your, um, if, if there is a kingdom of heaven, you’re earning your place in kingdom of heaven to be able to be suffering and still have an intention to heal. As we mentioned a couple of times, but I want to mention it again, because it’s so hard that even though we’re talking about tone of voice in this chapter, almost exclusively, we’re also recognizing that when you are in these difficult states, it can be so relieving. If you’re with a trustworthy person, to be able to give them a hint. And actually, one of the comments I’ve given through the years, since my very early years of counseling is people are afraid of challenging emotions. When you talk about them, they think if you’re depressed, it means you’re going to commit suicide.
Robert Strock: (26:29)
If you’re anxious, that, that means you’re a basket case. And so, people have an overreaction. So, I would encourage people to put in words, in an understated way, what they’re experiencing. So, if you’re very anxious, you might say, I’m feeling a little bit anxious and just understated, so you can get it out. So, you’re not having to perform around it. That can be very relieving to be able to understate where you are in words it’s, it’s a great ally. Now, when you’re dealing with something like anger, it’s a great example where usually both the words and the tone is denied. Person isn’t acknowledging their anger and they’re just dumping it. And so, there’s no word or tone improvement. So, that’s one where it’s really a mini miracle. When you can stop and pause. As you said earlier about pausing, it’s another positive when I’m angry.
Robert Strock: (27:28)
It is so automatic all the way from the Old Testament that it’s deserved. It’s because of the way I was treated. It has nothing to do with me. It’s them, it’s them to always her it’s him. And so, to be able to take the view or to consider the view, isn’t really zapping my quality of life. This is not a moral standard. This is not, you shouldn’t be angry. This is you’re burning up your own veins. You may think you’re happy. Cause you’re, you’re, you’re administering justice, but what’s happening is you’re contracted. What’s happening is I guarantee you it’s not reinforcing health. What’s happening is you have an aftermath that is still tight. When you contrast that with a sense of acknowledging that you’re angry and being able to state what you need, there would be no contrast, but you, again, as you said, we have to practice being aware of our intention to heal.
Robert Strock: (28:39)
We need to have a friendly mind and say, you know what? They’re not in their right mind. They’re probably caught in their anger too. I want to try to break the cycle. I want to try to see what, how I could take care of myself. What, what could I say besides acknowledging that I also have a little bit of anger, but here’s what I need. How could I express it? What would I say? How would I do it? So, the tone of voice to balance it out, it needs an ally, needs all these other practices to really be able to move it up and ratchet it up to a greater percentage. So, when we start to see this potential of being able to be aware of our challenging feelings, be aware of our intention to heal, especially when they’re challenging feelings that are injuring others, our intention to heal, leads us to ask what’s our alternative.
Robert Strock: (29:36)
How else can we be? How can we move towards a sense of well-being? Even though at one level, they deserve it. I don’t want to, I don’t want to punish them and punish myself. I want to find a healing alternative when we get to that place, which hopefully, as therapists, you know, that we see that or healers of any kinds of religious leaders or heads of corporations. So hopefully we see this, that we then can use tone of voice as an intervention for healing, where we can intervene by pausing, by seeing our reaction, which is really more like a, uh, we become them. We lose ourselves. We become the other that when we can see that, and we, it kicks us into this awareness of where we are first, our intention to heal, our recognition of how far we can come. Cause we might be a certain amount, caught up how we can take care of our needs. We go through those questions. We can actually use tone of voice as an intervention for our lives and those lives around us. And as we’re highlighting through these episodes, there has never been a time where our small little changes happening in the millions, hopefully the billions can lead to a different world where we see that our quality of life and the quality of life for everyone matters. And that’s why we’re alive. That’s certainly my deepest wish for all of us. And thank you for your attention.
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